The 3 Biggest Life Lessons I Learned from My Dad
I have been thinking about my Dad considerably lately since Father's Day of how he has influenced my life. On June 29th, it would've been his 100th birthday! Wow!
My dad was only in my life for a short while but he was there when it mattered the most. He was there during the years that most shaped who I grew up to be. Thank God.
My parents were married for over 30 years but I was born later in their lives. He was about 45 years old and my mother was 39 years old when I was born. Before I was born, my parents had 3 sons. Their family was complete, or so they thought! Then the unthinkable happened! Their oldest son, my dad's namesake, James Jr. or Jimmie, as everyone called him, was diagnosed with leukemia. Jimmie was brave and fought for his life. Jimmie lost that battle at the young age of 14 years old. When Jimmie passed, he took a piece of everyone in the family with him. They were all so devastated and so lost. What is next?
Some years later, my father expressed how he always wanted a baby girl. After some thought and deep prayer, my parents decided to have another baby. God truly answered their prayers with a beautiful baby girl! Me!
Sadly, Jimmie was in my parents' lives for a short time, and my dad was a gift to me for a short while as well. He passed away from cancer when I was 13 years old. Coming up was so hard because I missed my Daddy so much. I missed that "Daddy's girl" kind of love, and I still do.
He was a very strong yet gentle giant in my eyes. The 3 most important and memorable lessons taught by my "Daddy Dearest" are:
1. Work hard for what you want
My father was an extremely hard worker. He was a mailman during the times when he had to walk to the mailboxes in his crisp, clean, and ironed uniforms. He eventually got a truck to drive up to the mailboxes. He also worked very early hours. In addition to being a mailman, he did janitorial work in office buildings after hours. On top of all of that, he was a dedicated servant of our church where he was the Superintendent of Sunday School, President of the Adult Mass Choir, on the Deacon and Trustee Boards, and in the summer, Superintendent of Vacation Bible School. Admittedly, I did not see my father much because he worked so much. He was from a generation where the man's main priority was to provide for his family. He did provide for us, by any means. Because of the example that my father set (and all the important men in my life), today I can not stand or tolerate a lazy man! As a matter of fact, my husband is the hardest working man I know alive! My husband sets a great example to our 3 sons!
2. Commitment and Dedication
As stated before, with all the work my father did for our church, he was very committed and dedicated to all the roles he played within our church. He was a true leader. His word was his bond and he was very dependable. The roles he played, he did them for years and he thoroughly did his jobs. With each role, he was proud of what he did. "If you are going to do something, do it to the best of your ability. Work until the job is done. Stick with it!" That was his philosophy. Even his job as a mailman where he was also on the United States Postal Service Credit Union Board, he also showed commitment. What was the Postal Worker oath?
"Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds." See, true dedication!!
Quick story: At church I was in the youth choir, the members of the youth choir joined the adult choir (in which my father was President). The adult choir was going through a troubled time where there were many conflicts among choir members. I remember that the adults would be arguing with each other during choir rehearsal. All the youth decided to quit the combined choir because they wanted no part of adult choir. Well, all my friends sat out and I was the only youth singing with them. One Sunday, my father stood up during church service and announced that he was so proud of me because, although all of my friends had quit the choir and regardless of the terrible example the adults were setting for the young people with their constant bickering and hateful words (so un-Christian-like), I honored the commitment that I made to the choir and stayed. He cried because he was so ashamed of the behavior of the adults but, at the same time, so proud of his young daughter. I was shocked! I am thinking, "You mean to tell me that I had a choice?!" I thought I had to stay because my father was president!
3. A man's tears are his strength!
Men have feelings! It is okay for a man to cry. My father was a very affectionate and compassionate man. I remember his wet kisses when he would kiss me on the cheek. There were times at church when he was moved by the Spirit and he was not ashamed to cry in front of people. There were many Sunday church services when he would give emotional testimonies, as described above, expressing his love to God and his strong feelings of the moment. Because of him, I have never felt that a man was weak for crying, instead I admired a man who wasn't afraid to show his feelings. He was courageous! My husband is the same way, especially the older he gets.
They say that girls marry their fathers. My husband has many similar qualities of my father. Hard working, intelligent, kind, a music lover, committed and affectionate. Even though, my dad was only in my life for 13 years, he left an imprint on me forever.
The lesson I learned from my father listed here will always stay with me. With these lessons, I have learned that if I want something, I must work hard for it and do what it takes. I must be a person of my word. I also learned that it is good to be sensitive (it's part of who I am), to care about others and it is okay to be in touch with your emotions. With that I realized that I am a huge advocate of the concept of emotional intelligence. Although I tried to fight my sensitivity and my emotional displays from time to time because I cry easily and I have deep feelings, I have finally accepted that these are to be seen as qualities and not exactly weaknesses. All these lessons are what made my father a leader, a great leader.
I wrote this post to celebrate my father and the impact that he has had on my life. This blog is about family and I honor my father for his role of father and for all the other roles he played in his life.
I love and miss you, James O. Wilson! I believe you would have been proud of the woman that I have become!
-Who in your life has been a great influence in your life?
-Who has helped shape you into the person that you are today?
-What did this person teach you about life?